‘Star Trek’: The Story of the Most Daring Cliffhanger in ‘Next Generation’ History

Around 1990, when I was studying for my MA at the University of Virginia (and also working as a writer/editor for the engineering school), I sometimes had 30 people over at my place for “Star Trek parties.” The local TV station aired the show at midnight Sunday. My friends and I would rotate through different locations, but I seem to remember the group had gathered at my place for The Best of Both Worlds Part 1.  I don’t remember this, by my roommate tells me that after “To be continued” flashed on the screen, I announced that I was going to sit on the floor in front of the TV until the new season started in August.

I am slowly showing classic Trek to my kids, but Carolyn is so often out of the house at rehearsals that it’s very hard to find TV time, so she has missed a lot of the episodes I’ve watched with Peter. Now that we are on the third season of original Trek, there are fewer great episodes and more clunky ones, so I haven’t been that motivated to grab the kids and make them watch Trek. And I’ve made no particular effort to show them The Next Generation, though they have a passing familiarity with the characters.

The Borg captured Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) and transformed him into Locutus, a de facto spokesperson for the collective consciousness. The episode ended with Picard’s No. 2 Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes) giving shocking order (“Mr. Worf, fire.”) and the screen cutting to the words “To be continued…”, something it had never done.

Written by Michael Piller and directed by Cliff Bole, “Best of Both Worlds” is arguably the most influential arc in Next Generation history. Along with “Best of Both Worlds: Part II” and its aftermath episode “Family,” the story introduced layers of psychological complexity, bold storytelling and emotional depth the show had not yet explored. —Hollywood Reporter


11 thoughts on “‘Star Trek’: The Story of the Most Daring Cliffhanger in ‘Next Generation’ History

  1. I would have missed Patrick Stewart had he left the show, but I find myself wondering what an Acting Captain Riker / First Officer Shelby three-episode arc might have been like.

  2. What I liked most about this is how it set up “Picard might die” as plausible with a.) noting that Riker is ready now for command and b.) coming up with a pretty good character as a replacement for Number One.

    I knew, even as a 12 year old, the only time an actor left was over season break. It really felt like anything could happen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *